Category Archives: Reviews

Coconut Oil: Product Review

A vegan lifestyle isn’t just about what you eat, it’s also about the products that you wear or use. When it comes to body and beauty products like lotions, makeup, soap and even deodorant, serious vegans should be mindful about the ingredients along with whether or not the product was tested on animals.


I recently had the opportunity to review Fractionated Coconut Oil by goPURE Naturals. This product is 100% pure coconut oil and is for topical use only — so it’s not meant to be used in the kitchen. The process of fractioning the oil makes it extremely stable, so it has an indefinite shelf life and remains in liquid form. Here’s a comparison between goPURE and cold pressed coconut oil:

coconut oil

Coconut oil isn’t new to me at all. My family uses it a lot as a moisturizer or for massaging. I remember having to wait for the oil to melt before using it. I love that I don’t have to do that with the fractionated version. I’m able to use it right away – and I did just that by rubbing the oil on my hands. I am very happy to report that the oil absorbs quickly, is non-greasy and is totally aroma-free. It definitely left my hands feeling softer.

I also tried using the coconut oil as a shaving oil. While it can be easy to make a bit of a mess of it in the shower, it worked well and didn’t clump up on my razor or in the drain, which is a huge plus for me!

There are lots of other topical uses for coconut oil! Just check out Pinterest for ideas. I for one am thinking about trying it on my hair or as an ingredient to make homemade lotions or creams. The fact that it is unscented makes it a great partner with your favorite fragrance.

Do you use coconut oil for non-cooking purposes? Let me know how in the comments!

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Plane Foodie Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of my in-flight meal review! If you read Part 1, then you know that I was very happy and satisfied with the meal I had on my flight to Ireland. Coming back home had some different results. The vegetarian meal looked promising. The salad was much more “exotic” with the inclusion of cucumber, radishes, and greens other than iceberg lettuce. The dressing was again a balsamic vinaigrette, presented in a packet instead of a cute little bottle. I got crackers, a roll and some margarine. And dessert consisted of fruit.

Turning Veganese - Plane Food

The entree was yellow lentils and dhokla with some eggplant. Dhokla is made with a fermented batter derived from rice and chickpea splits. The lentils were good. I’m not familiar with dhokla so I didn’t know what to make of it. It tasted fine but was nothing to write home about. The eggplant was kind of gross. I don’t know what kind of sauce was on it, but the eggplant itself was rubbery.

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I was happy with the fruit for dessert! The strawberries, oranges and melon were really good and fresh. I avoided the pineapple to avoid any tummy issues.

The rest of the passengers had a choice between chicken with gnocchi or cheesy spinach pasta. I don’t remember what kind of dressing came with it, but my mom opted to use the rest of my balsamic vinaigrette in her salad. I tried some of the gnocchi – it was prepared with a tomato sauce and was much more tasty than my entree. Their dessert was a cookie.

Next time you fly and your ticket includes a meal, don’t forget to call up the airline and request a vegan or vegetarian meal! It’s an adventure in itself and may even help introduce you to new foods like dhokla.

Stay tuned – I’ll be posting soon on my culinary adventures in Ireland! –Melissa

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Plane Foodie Part 1

Hey, remember when airlines used to provide snacks or meals on every flight? That doesn’t happen on domestic flights anymore — unless you’re a fancy first class passenger — but it thankfully still occurs on international flights (okay, maybe not flights from Chicago to, say, Toronto, but you get it).

So why am I talking about plane food? I just got back from a ten day trip to Ireland. Prior to leaving, I was told by more than one person that Ireland is a beautiful place. They’re not kidding!

Ireland - Cliffs of Moher

We contacted the airline prior to our departure to request a vegetarian meal. Note: VEGETARIAN, not vegan. You can also request a vegan/non-dairy meal. That said, the special meals that I got were vegan as far as I could tell. What was also interesting is that one of the two options for the rest of the passengers was vegetarian, which is great! For our flight to Dublin, my entree was a Curried Garbanzo Bean Medley. It came with a side salad, including balsamic vinaigrette dressing, a roll, and honeydew wedges.

Turning Veganese Plane Food

I just love these little salad dressings. For the record, everyone else got a French dressing.

Salad Dressing

I give the entree 4 out of 5 stars. It was really tasty and surprisingly spicy, and I was glad to have a great protein source. The rice was good as was the broccoli, but I felt like some of the carrots were too mushy. Anyone averse to Indian flavors like cumin would not have liked it at all. In that moment, I was grateful that I found the dish tasty and gave myself a pat on the back for being a non-picky eater.


As I mentioned earlier, one of the options for everyone else was a vegetarian pasta. It looked good and wasn’t creamy or cheesy, so I would have eaten it. And on another day, I may have preferred it. But the great thing about these special meals is that the special diet is considered in all the meal components. There is no butter for the roll, a non-dairy salad dressing is provided, and the dessert is fruit! FRUIT IS AWESOME, especially on long flights – and makes requesting a special meal worth it! It was also much healthier than the 150 calorie cookie given to everyone else.

Even though it should be a no-brainer, I’m happy that airlines provide special meals without any hassle or added fees. It makes traveling, especially overseas, a much more pleasant experience. You also get your food before everyone else, which is pretty nice.

Check back soon for the “plane foodie” review of return flight meal. I will also be sharing some of my favorite dining experiences in Ireland! –Melissa

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Made in Nature Review & Giveaway!

Welcome to the relaunch of Turning Veganese! We are celebrating by trying out fantastic products from Made in Nature that will please both vegans and non-vegans. My discovery of Made in Nature came at a perfect time: I’ve been working really hard to eat more cleanly along with exercising regularly. One of my favorite snacks is dried apricots, and Made in Nature has these and much, much more for anyone who wants a healthy and natural snack.

Made in Nature selects the freshest, finest organic fruit, picks them at their culinary peek, and dries them to pure perfection to capture all of the flavor you crave. How do we do it? We work with the most dedicated family of farmers to grow the best tasting, organic fruit on the planet to guarantee true ‘taste of place.’

Made in Nature

Made in Nature has products from dried fruit to pizza to fresh produce. We were lucky to have the chance to try out their dried bananas, pineapples and apricots (my favorite!) as well as two products from their new line of healthy snacks! So, how are they different from anyone else? Here’s a list:

  • All their products are organic
  • NO sugar added
  • NO sulfur-dioxide
  • NO artificial color or additives
  • NO artificial fertilizers or pesticides
  • NO gluten or nuts
  • NO GMOs

I had my best taste testers assist me. I’ll admit that I was worried: these kids love their sweets. But they also love fruit and were game to try everything!


Juliana was most interested in trying out the bananas. Now, I’ll admit that we was a little shocked when I opened the bag to find dark, dried banana pieces. I was expecting something that looked more like a banana chip but these were dark brown and chewy. Juju immediately put a whole piece in her mouth. “Interesting… mmmm, this is delicious!” I agree with my niece’s assessment. For any Filipinos out there, the taste and smell of this reminds me of turón!

Made in Nature

Jocelyn is a girl after my own heart, so she wanted to try the apricots. Again, these are much darker than a conventional dried apricot, but she did not hesitate at all in trying a piece (or 3). “These are really good!” I agree and can guarantee that the rest of the bag will go quick.

Made in Nature Dried Fruits

I tried a taste of the pineapple. Like the others, I really enjoyed the pineapple and especially enjoyed how much healthier it is than dried pineapple you’ll find anywhere else.

Finally, we all tried out the Fruit Fusion snacks. We sampled the Antioxidant Fusion and the Tropical Fusion.


The Antioxidant Fusion consists of cherries, blueberries, cranberries, raisins, goji berries and pepitas. Yum!!! It’s hard to believe that there is no sugar added to this mix. Same goes for the Tropical Fusion: bananas, pineapples, mangoes, coconuts, ginger and cacao nibs. I’ll state right now that cacao has definitely been an acquired taste for me, but this mix is tasty and beautiful. Both snacks hit the spot in terms of satisfying that mid-afternoon craving. The best part is that I don’t feel one bit guilty about it!


Do you want to try Made in Nature products? Duh. Of course you do! And thanks to the generosity of Made in Nature, you have the chance to win Made in Nature prizes. Be sure to read the rules of this giveaway carefully:

  1. Follow us on Twitter @turningvegan or on Instagram @turningveganese.
  2. To enter on Twitter, tweet about your healthy favorite snack and mention @turningvegan and @madeinnature and include #vegantvsnack.
  3. To enter on Instagram, post a photo of your favorite healthy vegan snack and mention @turningveganese and @madeinnature and include #vegantvsnack.

You MUST include both mentions and the hash tag in order to be eligible. You can enter on both sites to double your chances! The giveaway will close on Sunday, July 27 at 11:59pm Central Time and winners will be announced on Monday, July 28. P.S. By mentioning us, you are giving us permission to retweet or regram your photos. Giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.

I hope you like the new (and improved, in my opinion) Turning Veganese! –Melissa

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Review: Trader Joe’s Vegan Mozzarella Style Shreds


I’ve been obsessed with making little pizzas ever since my visit with Jen. Follow Your Heart shreds are my favorite with Daiya coming in a close second. On a recent run to Trader Joe’s, I decided to pick up some of their branded Vegan Mozzarella Style Shreds.

It gives me no pleasure to say that I thought the Trader Joe’s vegan cheese was, well, yucky.

The shreds have gotten favorable reviews. The positives are that the cheese melts well and is inexpensive compared to Daiya. It also has a lot more calcium in it. More than one review called it the opposite of Daiya, and that’s something that I totally agree with.


The shreds are dry and thin. Upon opening the bag, I took a good whiff and it smelled like cheese. Unlike Daiya and Follow Your Heart, which retain their shape and color, the TJ shreds seemed to ooze into the rest of the ingredients. It definitely melts like real cheese.


All my pizzas have these base ingredients: Flatout flatbread for the crust (this stuff is so great AND vegan), roasted red pepper, and pizza sauce (I really like the Safeway brand pizza sauce… and I am extremely sad that we will be losing our Dominick’s/Safeway stores in Chicago next month). I constructed the ‘za and baked it.


I was definitely weirded out by the discoloration of the cheese and also some of the ooze factor. The first bite tasted had a really sharp taste. There’s definitely something in the cheese to give it this effect. Then, I felt like the cheese was sticking to my teeth and it felt very powdery in my mouth. I sometimes feel like Daiya has this sort of synthetic stickyness to it that I find annoying. This was worse.

I forced myself to eat the rest of the pizza, but I really had to force it down. I don’t think I will give Trader Joe’s Vegan Mozzarella Style Shreds another chance. I’m really glad I tried it, but I would rather have a cheeseless pizza than use it again. Do you agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments! –Melissa

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Vegan Smoked Salmon

Sophie’s Kitchen has been making assorted vegan versions of beloved seafood for a while now when I noticed their vegan smoked salmon.

We tried it with Tofutti cream cheese and some home-made teff bread (a new house favorite; the recipe is a work in progress) and the flavor was there. It isn’t smoked salmon but it was smoky, salty, oily and fishy. The texture wasn’t what I expected; the konjac fiber dominated but wasn’t offensive. The ingredients were unobjectionable but highly processed. As far as vegan comfort food goes, it didn’t wow me, but I think it’s worth a try for the rest of you out there.

I don’t think it will convince most carnists, but was a welcome change from regular Tofutti cream cheese on toast. Let me know what you think.

This is Christie, signing off!

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Birthday CAKE!

My personal favorite birthday cake is chocolate and vanilla marble cake with coconut frosting. Being gluten-free and vegan makes this an adventure. We tried Wholesome Chow’s vanilla cake mix, chocolate cake mix (both prepared with vegetable oil and soy milk) and their vanilla frosting mix prepared according to their glaze instructions. with 1/4 tsp coconut extract and some flake coconut sprinkled over the top. We baked it according to the instructions but had to bake it for an additional 30 minutes before it became firm. Not a problem, if you ask me.

I brought it to a gathering with some omnivore/carnist friends and it disappeared. For how easy it was to make and how delicious, I’d recommend it to anyone out there. Also, belated blog happy birthday to co-author Melissa!

This is Christie, signing off!

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“Shrimp” Jambalaya

This was one of those nights when we wanted something fun, but didn’t want to work too hard for it.
This Vigo Jambalaya rice mix was an easy base for our next ingredient. Brent made that while I prepared the rest. I diced an onion and sauteed it in Earth Balance buttery spread, chardonnay, flake red pepper and garlic.
We’re using a different kind of vegan shrimp than our usual Ocean’s Best. Visually it was a decent substitute for shrimp.

This particular variety is soy and gluten free and has the texture of overcooked shrimp. I don’t mind that chewier texture, in most dishes I prefer it. It gave a good contrast to the tender rice and soft onion.

At this point I’m neutral to the two. Sophie’s has a slightly better nutritional profile because they’re made with konjac flour instead of potato starch like Ocean’s best. In the end, they’re both tasty, very processed, taste not unlike the real thing but won’t convince most picky carnists. I’d get them if you’re really missing shrimp. Real shrimp are harvested by ocean dredging which is the ecological equivalent of clear cutting a forest. These are better for your conscience.

If you get to try them, let me know what you think!

This is Christie, signing off!

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Hedgehog Mushrooms

So these exist. Hedgehog mushrooms were pretty amazing to look at and had a nutty earthy flavor. I wouldn’t go out of your way to find them unless you’re up for an adventure.
I’m sure you can tell how these mushrooms got their name just by looking at them. If you find some, let me know what you think!

This is Christie, signing off!

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The Lazy Vegan: Tandoor Chef Vegetable Masala Burgers

Hi, Veganesers! This isn’t a Lazy Vegan post as much as it’s a “I’m so busy and haven’t had a chance to go to the grocery store let alone cook anything” post. At least it’s not a “I’m curled up on the floor, crying my eyes out for no reason and have no appetite” post.


I spotted these Vegetable Masala Burgers by Tandoor Chef at a local grocery store last week and decided to try them. I like veggie burgers, I like Indian food… this seemed like something different that would be perfect for those lazy days.

The ingredients include the following: potatoes, canola oil, carrots, green beans, water, bread crumbs, bell peppers, onions, corn, salt, green peppers, milled cane sugar, ginger, cellulose gum, spices, citric acid, tumeric, mustard seeds. They are not gluten-free. I didn’t have any buns (at least not burger buns) so I threw some rice on the plate along with a roasted eggplant.


The burger was good but far from great. The spices were very subtle so I added some Sriracha to give it a kick. I was happy to see that one patty was only 120 calories, but it only has 2 grams of protein so it’s not very substantial. I’m glad I gave these a try, but I don’t think I’ll be buying them again. They weren’t tasty enough in order for me to prefer them to more protein-packed burgers that I can make or buy.

‘Til next time! –Melissa

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